Migrating Gracefully to UC in 2014 – One Step At A Time

Migrating Gracefully to UC in 2014 – One Step At A Time

By Art Rosenberg December 26, 2013 3 Comments
Art
Migrating Gracefully to UC in 2014 – One Step At A Time by Art Rosenberg

I think everyone recognizes that the future of business communications is becoming more mobile, multi-modal, IP based, and integrated with business process applications. The major challenges for every organization, large or small, for starting to move forward towards that future are many, but there are two basic planning steps always required. Step 1, understanding how and where the benefits of using the new communications technology will best apply to the various operational needs and priorities of the individual business. Step 2, planning a minimally disruptive and cost effective migration from their current communication technologies. There are also other steps involved, e.g., secure access for BYOD devices, managing and maintaining UC-enabled apps, training end users to use converged communication facilities effectively, etc., but those will be other steps.

Step 1 is important because it lays the groundwork for justifying the move to new communications technology, identifying different end user needs, and will also affect planning for changes to current business process applications (CEBP). Because UC has become more complex and most organizations don’t have internal expertise with the new technologies, it has become most practical to utilize objective professional consultants, familiar with particular vertical market needs, to help define requirements for Step 1.

However, Step 2 must also be started in synch after Step 1. This may be done on a priority basis, for specific business processes and all involved types of end users. With flexibility of Internet connectivity and mobile devices, the old requirements of location-based technologies and CPE don’t really apply. This allows for a more graceful migration implementation based on specific business processes and the specific end users that will be involved with those customized applications.

What is Needed for Step 2

The change to IP digital communications will basically impact how the legacy wired, premised-based, PSTN-connected telephony system will be subsumed by wired and wireless cloud-based Internet connectivity services, and how Communications Enabled Business Process applications will replace person-to-person contact activities. Such change will obviously be an evolutionary one, so most organizations will face the old syndrome of “one foot on land (CPE, PSTN) and the other in the canoe (cloud services, WebRTC).” So, it will be important to use technology that is flexible enough to connect the old with new.

While I usually like to focus on what the end users will need and want from communication user interfaces, there is no question that infrastructure and connectivity that end users don’t see, are equally important for implementation planning. Patton Electronics is a well-established technology provider, particularly in Europe, but less well known in the U.S., that is focused on providing the technology to connect all the “old” with all the “new” business communications technologies required by both organizations and communication service providers that must migrate to the UC future. As every organization starts their migration towards IP Telephony as part of UC enablement, they will need the kind of connectivity flexibility that Patton’s SmartNode platform, cloud services, and integration services with Microsoft Lync and IBM Sametime can offer.

At this point in Step 2, traditional VARs, SIs, and Channel Partners, perhaps referred by the Consultants that helped do Step 1, can be called upon to do the heavy lifting integrations for connectivity and UC interoperability. This is where the flexibility experience of Patton’s connectivity offerings can come into play to make things work more easily and quickly for getting to the next steps of implementation.

 

3 Responses to "Migrating Gracefully to UC in 2014 – One Step At A Time" - Add Yours

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Mary Allan 12/26/2013 12:15:18 PM

I am pushing through Step 1 now. I've upgraded several remote sites across the country to an IP-based telephony solution; they were 'dying on the vine' PBXs that were no longer under any form of maintenance and support! Now I'm designing the Corporate site, and getting pushback. The design includes migrating to Microsoft UM, bringing in an SBC for future SIP Trunking when the remote sites are centralized back to Corporate. I have to get the C-level to stop zoning on the price tag and understand the bigger picture, but I'm not finding the 'Silver Bullet' terms to make that happen. Do you have any suggestions? My company has been growing at an astronomical rate over the past two years; I've only been here 7 months. In many ways, they still operate as the small company they once were; I have to help change that mindset to being the Enterprise they've become. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated!!
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Art Rosenberg 12/26/2013 1:44:00 PM

Mary,

I certainly sympathize with your predicament, since UC enablement is not just about reducing costs, but increasing productivity and business process performance.

My suggestion, therefore, is to work more closely with the next level of business management, particularly those that are concerned with generating revenue more quickly and cost efficiently. They should be able to identify key business processes that are most dependent on user interactions with both people and online business process applications. In particular, Mobile UC and BYOD could be key to better performance. They should also be able to identify specific end user groups and individuals that are key participants in those high-priority business processes, which can help you more selectively plan cost effective UC implementations.

If that level of business management can't provide the information needed for implementation planning, you probably should look to getting third-party assistance from objective Consultants, who specialize in your particular vertical market. They will be familiar with the business process applications that require more flexible and efficient communications, and will not be biased towards any particular technology vendor. (Some of my UC Strategies colleagues specialize in helping do that well.)

Obviously, IP telephony will remain an important component of UC, not just to reduce old costs, but also to support UC flexibility cost effectively. However, you have to start with business process needs and directions, before you can implement specific new technologies. Otherwise you will be stuck with simply doing the old stuff maybe a bit cheaper, but not better!
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Mark Fletcher, ENP 12/26/2013 2:17:23 PM

Art,

One of the things in step two should be to ensure feature functionality has been included to an appropriate level. One of the things that UC brings, is user flexibility as well as a new level of user mobility.

With today's legacy 911 network, emergency calls rely on the telephone number of the user aligning with location information in the 911 database. Unfortunately, maintaining this alignment can become cost prohibitive, or at least an additional expense that was not initially planned. Establishing a good 911 policy within the enterprise, and aligning it with future next generation 911 capabilities will provide employees continued emergency call coverage.

For work at home, and other off premise users, a VPC service commonly referred to as "Hosted E911" may be required to provide the appropriate coverage. While this is suitable for individual homeworkers, it may not be the best solution deployed across internal users within brick-and-mortar sites.

All too often, E911 is a forgotten stepchild in implementations, or poor choices are made which result in tragedies such as the recent hotel murder in Texas. IP telephony, UC environments both provide businesses with additional communications tools today that they never have had before.

But while embarking on a new technology, it is important to understand the impact on emergency communications for those users, and plan for preventable alternatives.

Fletch

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